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Little Tips for Small Breeds

It’s hard to believe a Chihuahua and a Great Dane are both Canis familiaris. Other than sharing a species, little dogs and big dogs go their own way. From grooming and food to toys and treats, one size doesn’t fit all. If your pooch is less than 18 inches tall and weighs less than 20 pounds, here are some tips for caring for his small breed needs.

Smaller size, longer life

Little dogs generally live longer than larger breeds. However, small breeds do have health-specific issues like leg and joint issues, including hip dysplasia when the bone doesn't fit properly in the hip socket, or a slipped kneecap, making them prone to arthritis.

Many flat-faced smaller dogs such as French Bulldogs, Pugs, Cairn Terriers or Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can have breathing problems due to shortened airways. As always, watch for size-specific conditions and keep up with your little guy’s veterinarian visits.

Energize good health

Small bodies don’t necessarily mean smaller appetites. Little dogs are usually bundles of energy and a 10-pound terrier needs different food than a 100-pound mastiff. Feed your small breed food specially formulated for his size, featuring higher levels of proteins and carbohydrates for his elevated energy needs, and even small-sized kibble, which can help remove tarter when he chews.

Exercise, socialize

Yes, small dogs look adorable peering out from a handbag or doggie tote, but they’re still canines who need plenty of exercise. Regular walks are a must for all dogs’ physical and mental health, whatever their size. Be aware of any limitations your small breed may have for any endurance activities, such as shorter legs, and always check with your veterinarian to ensure your little guy is healthy enough for any activity.

Your small dog may be your “baby” size wise, but try not to baby him. We know it’s hard when he looks so ridiculously cute, especially as a pup, but you won’t be doing him or yourself any favors if you spoil him.

Proper training and socializing with other dogs is necessary to help channel all of your little guy’s high-octane energy. With a healthy amount of exercise and socialization skills under his collar, you can avoid the yappy and skittish qualities too often associated with small breeds.